National surveys and rankings put spotlight on top NMSU strengths

September 30, 2011 by Darrell J. Pehr, NMSU News Center

Recent statistics by national organizations highlight key strengths of New Mexico State University.

For example, a recent National Science Foundation academic research and development expenditures survey ranked NMSU 70th nationally in chemistry, up from 82nd in FY 2008. In the same NSF survey, for 2009, which are the most current statistics issued by the organization, NMSU maintained its rank as third in the country in research and development expenditures at Hispanic-serving institutions, and first in the country in that category when it is limited to universities without a medical school. In total R&D expenditures at all 572 institutions without a medical school, surveyed by NSF, NMSU ranked 30th, up from 32nd in 2008.

“I’m pleased to see rankings that bring attention to the details that tell a lot about who we are and what makes us a great university,” said NMSU President Barbara Couture.

This news comes as the university has seen a big increase in sponsored awards – from $154 million to $198 million – from 2009-2010. In addition, the university has seen an increase in both the number of proposals submitted to funding agencies and the average value of each proposal.

“Our researchers continue to demonstrate outstanding success in garnering competitive federal funding and NSF’s recent statistics are a testament to their scholarship, perseverance, and standing among peers,” said NMSU Vice President for Research Vimal Chaitanya.

Research success also was a factor in Washington Monthly’s annual College Guide and Rankings, in which NMSU was ranked 149th among what the magazine called “National Universities” for 2011. NMSU was ranked 202nd in 2010.

In recognition of universities’ “contribution to the public good,” scores focused on recruiting and graduating low-income students, producing cutting-edge research and encouraging students to give something back to their country. NMSU outranked all other universities in the state in its category of “National Universities” in the Washington Monthly compilation.

The publication assigns point totals for universities based on 11 categories, such as predicted graduation rate versus actual graduation rate; research expenditures in millions of dollars; faculty receiving significant awards; students involved in campus ROTC programs; and federal work-study funds spent on service – all categories in which NMSU ranked among the top 100.

But it wasn’t only research activity that drew the attention of national ranking organizations. In the recently released U.S. News & World Report list of Best National Universities for 2012, NMSU was recognized as one of the universities where students graduate with the least debt. The same magazine ranked the NMSU College of Engineering at 120th nationally. Among the top 100 universities in the country were NMSU’s departments of physics (93rd); electrical/electronic/communications engineering (85th); and civil engineering (81st).

The publication also noted that NMSU is first among 245 universities it looked at when it comes to economic diversity. The magazine considered the ethnic diversity of 249 institutions and found NMSU ranked 48th on that list.

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